Arsene Wenger praised the mentality of his players as they ground out a victory over Newcastle to move clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League. The scrappy win, coupled with Leicester’s goalless stalemate against Bournemouth, means Wenger’s side are now two points clear at the summit – and he was quick to praise the work ethic of his squad on a tough afternoon. “It was a difficult game against a good Newcastle side,” he said. “Our legs were a little bit heavy today, overall we were tested against a team that has a lot of technical quality. “You have to say “let’s stick together and try and win the game if we can, the mental aspect of our game was tested today. “Not to drop points when you play like we did today is important. It helps the team as well, we will go through the season with moments where we don’t play well and memories of doing that before helps you hang on some times.” “I know that when you are capable of winning when you don’t play well, that shows a mental aspect of your team that will be very important in moments that will be difficult.” Cech, who broke the record for clean sheets in Monday’s win at Bournemouth was yet again singled out for special praise from his manager on an afternoon where flair players like Mesut Ozil were largely on the periphery. “He made two big saves,” Wenger added. “One in the first half and one at the beginning of the second, on top of that he gives calm and never panics and today we needed that.” The Gunners were outplayed by a side looking to move out of the relegation zone but secured what could yet prove to be a vital 1-0 win when Laurent Koscielny turned home from close-range with a little more than 15 minutes remaining. Before then, Arsenal had been reliant on Petr Cech with the new Premier League clean sheets record-holder denying Newcastle on a number of occasions – most notably when Georginio Wijnaldum was freed in the box early in the second half. The defeat leaves Newcastle in the bottom three but manager Steve McClaren was at a loss to explain how his side had managed to leave the Emirates Stadium empty-handed. “I’m scratching my head as to how we got nothing from the game,” he said. “Not many teams will do that to Arsenal and not come away with anything. But it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net. “Cech was the difference, that why he’s been such a great goalkeeper. Goalkeepers can win matches and he certainly won that game.” It was the third game in succession in which the Magpies have drawn a blank but McClaren believes that will be addressed – adding that the club were likely to do some business in the transfer window. “We need to work hard in training and be more ruthless in front of goal,” he said. “The goals will come. January has come and we will have a discussion about that – we are working hard behind the scenes.” Press Association
KINGSTON:Netball Jamaica is working to expand the Sunshine Open League to become an islandwide competition, which will unearth new talent from every parish across the country for the 2017 season.The league, which is sponsored by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), currently comprises 72 teams that are primarily based in the Corporate Area.Dr Paula Daley-Morris, president of Netball Jamaica, who was speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2016 NJ/JNBS Sunshine Open League held at the National Indoor Sports Centre last Saturday, said: “Preparatory work undertaken by the organisation over the past three years will help to inform the new league structure to be implemented in 2017.”She explained that the organisation has been establishing parish associations and has been sensitising its members about the need to go this route. This is part of Netball Jamaica’s plan to really become a national body; to manage the sport across the country, and not only operate in Kingston and St Andrew.The new cross-country league structure is expected to facilitate a minimum of 20 teams from each parish in the three leagues organised by Netball Jamaica.”I am sure we’ll be able to find more teams. We will be running three leagues – major, minor and intermediate. Therefore, we will have enough leagues to be able to filter the talent across those leagues according to their ability levels,” Dr Daley-Morris emphasised.The University of the West Indies (UWI) Pelicans emerged the overall champions of the 2016 season of the Sunshine Open League after defeating the Molynes United ‘A’ team 30-19, while the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) Knights defeated SPEG ‘A’ 40-28 for the Group ‘B’ Consolation Open League title.Paulette Sterling, JN senior manager, strategy and special projects, said the 25-year-long support of the league by Jamaica National is one of its longest such partnerships with a sports entity.”Our management and employees continue to be passionate about netball and see positive opportunities for the players to hone their skills and perform with excellence in the game, as well as in their respective lives,” she said.